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Stack-Based Hydrogels with Mechanical Enhancement, High Stability, Self-Healing Property, and Thermoplasticity from Poly(l‑glutamic acid) and Ureido-Pyrimidinone

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journal contribution
posted on 03.02.2020, 14:33 by Qi Wang, Zhen Shi, Yufeng Shou, Kunxi Zhang, Guifei Li, Pengfei Xia, Shifeng Yan, Jingbo Yin
Supramolecular hydrogels formed by noncovalent bonds are attractive “smart” materials, which can rapidly respond to external stimuli. However, only a handful of supramolecular hydrogels is applicable in tissue engineering, due to the instability and poor mechanical strength of noncovalent cross-linking hydrogels. Thus, a rigid and stable supramolecular hydrogel has been developed based on poly­(l-glutamic acid) and 2-ureido-4­[1H]­pyrimidinones (UPy), and the UPy stacks are noncovalent cross-linking interactions. The hydrogels show excellent mechanical strength and stability, in sharp contrast to noncovalent hydrogels cross-linked by UPy dimers and covalent hydrogels cross-linked by esterification. The hydrogels also exhibit remoldability, self-healing, and thermoplastic printing characteristics, which are caused by the reversible supramolecular property of UPy stacks. Also, the formation of hydrogels dependent on UPy stacks is further investigated by atomic force microscope, small-angle X-ray scattering, in situ X-ray diffraction, circular dichroism, and UV–vis spectroscopies. Finally, the hydrogels show commendable biocompatibility and degradability, which have high potential applications in regenerative medicine.